The Lakers wanted Anthony Davis badly. Still do. But in a way, the Pelicans rejecting their offer of six players and two first-round draft picks — essentially six first round picks in all, given where three of the players had been drafted — and demanding more, could work out in the Lakers favor long-term.
How could not getting a Top six player in the NBA be considered a win? Yes, the Lakers were considered big losers at the deadline, but here’s the positive angle: They were bidding against themselves. The Celtics could not get involved. This summer there will be other bidders, but the Lakers will almost certainly not have to part with as many players or picks as they nearly just did, and here’s how that’s going to work in the Lakers’ favor:
Kevin Durant will be the most in-demand player in the NBA. The Knicks will focus heavily on him, but so will the Clippers. There is zero evidence that Durant wants to team up with Anthony Davis. By all accounts, he wants a #2 wingman, a Pippen to his Jordan, a Klay to his Curry, a young Kobe to his Shaq.
Unlike Anthony Davis, nobody has any clue which teams Durant wants to play for. As of right now, it’s the Knicks with everyone else trailing. But remember, if Durant is allegedly chasing LeBron’s GOAT status, it certainly would be a boss move to go to the Clippers, bring a friend (Jimmy Butler?) and then be the best team in LA. The Clippers have had seasons better than the Lakers — the Lob City years — but they are the least successful franchise in NBA history, having never been to the Finals.
So will the Knicks really be bidding to rent Anthony Davis if KD doesn’t want to play with him? If they don’t win the #1 pick in the draft, will they have the ammo to make a run at a trade? It would, however, be very Knicks to trade the #1 pick for Anthony Davis and then have him leave in a year for the Lakers.
Boston is the team thought to have the most trade capital to pull off a deal, but there are multiple scenarios where Jayson Tatum is not in the trade. For starters, what if Kyrie Irving is not keen on playing with Anthony Davis? Like Durant, Kyrie wants to be the clear top star on a team and have something to call his own. If the Celtics have a decision, sure, they’d rather build around Davis, but you can’t trade Tatum and have nobody to play with Davis.
I keep coming back to this scenario: Davis says he’s not going to pull a Paul George and will only sign with the Lakers. After Kawhi Leonard leaves the Raptors, other teams will suddenly be lukewarm on the idea of renting superstars on a whim. Then the Lakers won’t have to give up nearly as much to get Davis — probably two of Ingram/Kuzma/Lonzo, salary filler, and two first round picks. Those players not valuable enough?
We just saw a Patriots team ride the “nobody believed in us” mantra all the way to a Super Bowl win. Yeah, it was silly, and they were favored in two of three playoff games, but they created a narrative and it worked for them.
Why can’t all the Lakers players who were nearly traded swipe the same mantra? “The Pelicans, many members of the media and the dopes on #NBATwitter thought we were a garbage deal, and not worth a trade. Really? Ok, we’ll show them.” Brandon Ingram, want to show your worth? Become a lockdown defender. Kyle Kuzma, show you’re more than just a scorer. Lonzo Ball, when back from injury, maybe hit more than 60 percent of your FTs.
Remember, this team, when fully healthy, was 4th in the West. Over the final 27 games, why can’t they rise to 6th or 7th in the West? The schedule is daunting — a ton of TV games — and they still have to travel to the 76ers and Jazz, host the Rockets, Nuggets, Celtics and Warriors, and have two more against the Bucks.
After Thursday night’s win in Boston, they’d need to go about 20-7 to accomplish that goal. If everyone can stay healthy, why not?